Who’s driving this bus, anyway?

The field of ediscovery, like much of the law, develops in fits and starts. While the broad confines are delineated by rules that are intermittently passed down from on high, day-to-day adjustments are less intentional. Judges and courts find themselves at the helm of an evolutionary process in which they don’t get to choose either the topics or the facts of the cases they decide. As a result, they’re often pushed by the tides rather than choosing where to go.

To effect incremental positive change in how we do ediscovery, it helps to have thinkers and influencers steering the conversation.

Fortunately, there are a number of bloggers, teachers, and speakers who have the deep insight that comes from a long history with the law, technology, or both. Better still, they have strong opinions about how we should all be doing things and they’re not afraid to share them.

We’ve compiled a short list of the key voices who are currently directing the way we think and talk about ediscovery. Note that for the purposes of winnowing down our list, we’ve focused on individuals with their own opinions, rather than law firms or companies that may be driven by business interests. We’ve also limited ourselves to those influencers who have an ongoing online presence that our readers can regularly engage with, which omits a number of influential speakers and thinkers. Those ranks include many retired judges who have vast experience with ediscovery practice — both bad and, occasionally, good — from behind the bench.

If you want to keep up with where ediscovery practice is going, these are the online voices to heed.

Craig Ball

Craig has been working specifically in ediscovery for well over a decade. He’s handled dozens of cases as a court-appointed special master for ediscovery disputes and he consults privately on issues of ediscovery and computer forensics. Craig also teaches a class about ediscovery and digital evidence at the University of Texas School of Law and speaks at least once a month at events across the country, ranging from conferences like PREX to CLEs.

Craig offers an assortment of publications and resources, including free webinars, on his website. His most up-to-date content, however, is on his blog, at Ball in Your Court.

Like most of our influencers — but unlike most attorneys — Craig is as proficient in technology as he is in the law. This dual expertise allows him to explain not only the underlying technological and legal issues, but also how they overlap and affect each other. For example, he’s written, more than once, about the need to preserve app history data from Alexa devices, offering step-by-step instructions for exactly how to do it.

Kelly Twigger

Kelly is a former litigator whose computer proficiency found an outlet when she came across ediscovery and learned about electronically stored information (ESI). An early adopter of ediscovery practice, Kelly started her own firm, ESI Attorneys, to help businesses manage their ESI more effectively and proactively.

She now writes a weekly-ish column for Above the Law. In it, she focuses intently on electronic evidence: where it is, how to find it, and how to use it. Recognizing that most attorneys are less familiar with ESI than she is, Kelly offers specific guidance and questions that counsel can use to probe their own, and their opponents’, data. And she’s unflinching about offering her own perspectives and opinions. For instance, Kelly doesn’t buy the notion that ediscovery is like any other discovery; she teaches attorneys how data can drive litigation if they know how to use it.

Josh Gilliland

Josh is another long-timer in the ediscovery world, having spent 10 years parsing the law of electronic evidence. A self-proclaimed Legal Geek, Josh blogs on his other website, the memorably named Bow Tie Law. He also teaches ediscovery CLEs, where he’s honed his ability to succinctly present the key deciding factors for cases.

Josh primarily writes colorful case summaries that are descriptive yet short and to the point. Best of all, they conclude with his own suggestions, based on 10 accumulated years of experience, about how readers can avoid problems. Recently, for example, Josh offered specific strategies for how to get through ediscovery without “kill[ing] irreplaceable time” by reading thousands of documents.

Ralph Losey

Brief summaries are great when time is limited, but sometimes you need to dive into an issue. When you want a treatise rather than a summary, Ralph Losey’s e-Discovery Team has you covered. He’s specifically focused on ediscovery and technology since 2006, and his case explanations reflect his depth of knowledge, often going into more detail than the judge’s opinion he’s dissecting. Ralph explains the subtext behind court decisions and suggests ways that ediscovery thoughts are diverging or converging on specific issues.

Ralph isn’t just interested in picking apart current cases, though; he wants every attorney to have the opportunity to master ediscovery. To that end, he offers a free 85-class training program in electronic discovery law as well as an advanced program specifically focused on his current specialty, technology-assisted review (TAR).

Several influencers curate useful ediscovery updates on Twitter. Start with legal process engineer Dera Nevin and ediscovery analyst Rob Robinson, who also blogs and posts survey results at his Complex Discovery website. For an international take on the direction of ediscovery growth, follow the UK’s Chris Dale, who runs the eDisclosure Information Project, or Canada’s Martin Felsky.

Interested in more than just ediscovery? For a quick way to keep up with where general legal technology is going, check out these Twitter feeds:

All four provide frequent updates and links to helpful articles about ediscovery and more.

The ediscovery bus won’t drive itself — but fortunately there are thinkers and teachers steering the direction of conversation. All aboard!